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the conduct of the person mentioned in the text inexcusable; he might have had a proper marriage garment if he had applied for it.-Among the Asiatics, garments called caftans, great numbers of which every nobleman has ordinarily ready in his wardrobe, are given to persons whom he wishes to honour; and to refuse to accept or wear such a dress would be deemed the highest insult."
his unbounded goodness, and of his tender mercy, free grace, and unmerited favour towards lost and helpless man. The Gospel which we are invited to receive, is "the Gospel of the grace of God."
The Gospel is here compared to a marriage feast, or, as St. Luke expresses it, a great supper. This is a very significant and appropriate figure; and it is one which the Holy Spirit, in condescension to our infirmity, and a view to our edification and comfort, has frequently employed in Holy Scripture. See especially Prov. ix. 1-5; and Isa. xxv. 6; lv. 1, 2.
Let us consider what are those good things of which the soul of a believer partakes in the Gospel feast.
It seems probable that our Lord, in delivering this parable, had in view Zephaniah i. 7, 8, "Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the kings-One most distinguishing part of children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel."-In fact, the figure here employed is common, both in the Sacred Scriptures, and in rabbinical writings. The parable, in its leading features, is repeated in Luke xiv. 16-24.
READER.-The kingdom of heaven, i. e. the Gospel dispensation, is like unto a certain king which made a marriage, i. e. a marriage feast, for his son. This certain king, the master of the feast, denotes Almighty God, our heavenly Father. He is the originator or author of the Gospel, with all its blessings. The rich provision which has been made for our salvation is the produce of his almighty power, his infinite wisdom,
this divine and spiritual banquet is, the body and blood of Christ, the bread of God, the bread of life; in other words, the perfect work and most precious sacrifice of the Saviour of the world, which, being the object of humble and lively faith, becomes the nourishment and the delight of the believer's soul. "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." When a man habitually, with an humble and confiding heart, reposes his hope of forgiveness and acceptance with God upon. the sacrifice, righteousness, and intercession of the Redeemer,-then he feeds on Christ, and by the enjoyment of this spiritual food and
sustenance his soul is strengthened of Christ's family, holy and beloved,
and refreshed. Nor is this happy effect of true and lively faith at any time more complete, or more rich with its accustomed blessing, than when it is exercised in the use of religious ordinances, and especially in connection with the appointed commemoration of the Saviour's death in the holy Supper. If, while we eat the bread and drink the wine, we also discern the Lord's body which those elements are intended to represent to our minds, -that is to say, if we exercise faith in the crucified Redeemer, truly repenting of our sins, and humbly desiring pardon and grace for Christ's sake, then do we, in an especial manner, enjoy the fulfilment of that saying, "He hath filled the hungry with good things."Again, the soul of a believer is refreshed by drinking of the richly flowing streams of Divine grace. "Living water springing up unto eternal life" is an important part of the provision made in the spiritual banquet of the Gospel. Believers in Christ are partakers of God's Spirit. They know that the blessed influence of this Divine agent has been purchased for them by the sufferings of Christ, and is now dispensed by him from his throne of glory. They pray for these graces, seek for them, prize them, cherish them. They receive them continually from time to time; and find in them no mean part of the heavenly banquet provided by the sovereign Lord, the bountiful dispenser of all good. And often are these brethren
partakers of the heavenly gift, constrained to exclaim, as it were, in the language of the Psalmist, "There be many that say who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased."-Besides this, the soul of an humble believer feeds, as it were, upon all the rich promises which are scattered up and down throughout the word of God. He is nourished and refreshed with the blessed hope of everlasting life. And many are the elements of happiness in his possession and within his reach, which are to his spiritual perception what the provisions of a richly furnished table are to the guests at a noble entertainment. pleasure of agreeable society is one recommendation of an earthly feast, so the delight of spiritual intercourse with believing brethren,-in one word, the communion of saints,-is an ingredient in the satisfaction of those who have accepted the gracious invitation of the master of the Gospel banquet. Nor must it be forgotten that all the peace and joy which a faithful Christian can experience during his abode on earth, is no more than a slight foretaste of those pleasures which are at God's right hand for ever, and of which he hopes to partake hereafter, together with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the company of the redeemed.-Truly then, in many points of view, the kingdom of
heaven is like unto a marriage for our sins."-Righteousness and acfeast. ceptance with God are ready;-for all Christ's people are accepted in him who is himself the beloved of the Father.--Peace is ready; for it is the gift of Christ; and he gives it, not as the world gives, he bestows it, such as the world can neither give nor take away,-and, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.Holiness is ready, by the operation of Divine grace upon the heart;for the ascended Saviour claims, on behalf of his people, the fulfilment of that promise, "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them."-And, lastly, Heaven is ready;-for the Lord Jesus himself declared, "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." "And we know," says St. Paul, "that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
And, as the Gospel thus assures us that all things are now ready, so also it conveys to us, one and all, an earnest invitation to partake of the spiritual and eternal blessings which have been so graciously provided. "Come, for all things are now ready." See also Isa. lv. 1; and Rev. xxii. 17.-With a deep sense of Divine love and grace,under a full conviction of our misery
Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. Such is a representation of the offers and invitations of divine mercy as they are continually addressed to men in the pages of the Gospel, and by all ministers who faithfully deliver the message contained in the written word.-Nor is this language addressed merely to a few; but, as St. Luke especially reminds us, the guests invited to partake of the great supper are many. Great is the marriage supper of the king, and many are the bidden guests. But let us consider especially the message which the servants are commissioned to deliver.-" All things are ready,-come unto the marriage!" Or, as it is in St. Luke, "Come, for all things are now ready." How clear a delineation of the message which is continually delivered to ourselves in the Gospel! God tells us, by his Spirit with his word and his ministers, that all things necessary for our salvation and happiness are now ready and He mercifully invites us to come to him and to partake of the provision which has been so liberally made. All things are ready. Pardon is ready for those who repent them truly of their sins past;-for it has been purchased by the Redeemer's blood; and "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation
and need, and in the name of Christ, let us continually repair to the bountiful giver of all good, seeking pardon, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and receiving at his hands the fulfilment of his promises in the supply of our need, the support of our weakness, and the grant of eternal life.
But in what manner was the summons received by the persons in the parable? It is said, they would not come; they made light of it;—and, as St. Luke says, they all with one consent began to make excuse!-Men sometimes find excuses for not embracing that real, spiritual, practical religion which is not according to their taste. Some men, indeed, when they are bidden to the heavenly feast, say plainly, 'We will not come. Religion does not suit us. We do not choose to comply with its demands. We do not value, or we do not believe, its promises. We are resolved to go on in that contrary way which appears to us far better. We will not comply with the demands of the Gospel.' These are bold sinners; and it is to be feared that too many such are to be found in our own day and generation. They set themselves in open opposition to the authority of God, and even abuse and persecute the messengers of his mercy. God grant that none of us may ever be numbered among these daring workers of iniquity, these reckless votaries of pleasure or the world! But there are others, who like the persons in the parable before us, merely make light of the invitation, or say, 'We cannot come.'
They are not so bold as to give a plain and positive refusal. They profess that they are willing to accept the gracious offer; and they promise, and perhaps hope, that, at some future time, they will comply with it. But then they say also that, for the present, there is some difficulty or impediment in the way, by which they are hindered and kept back. They begin to make excuse. They are so courted by pleasure, or so burdened with care, or so oppressed by want, or so controlled by the solicitations, example, or influence of friends, or, in some way or other, they are placed in so unfortunate and difficult a position, that it is quite impossible for them, at present, to turn from their vain or sinful course of life, and to give their hearts to God. Alas! the Bible contains a thousand warnings, instructions, and entreaties, which ought to convince such men how little their excuses will avail before God! And even slight reflection may reveal to us the large amount of folly, weakness, and guilt which such excuses certainly involve.-And yet these excuses are often very plausible, and are sometimes founded upon worldly occupations and engagements, which, in themselves, are lawful. Some of the men in the parable went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise; and in St. Luke they are represented as making these occupations a plea for their absence from the supper.-Let us beware, and seek continually for Divine grace, lest the common and lawful occupations of life should become stum
bling-blocks in our way to heaven,means of keeping us back from faith in the Redeemer, from our exercise of Christian duty, from the enjoyment of Gospel privileges, from the service, the favour, and the presence of our God.
But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth. Some persons seem to imagine that God is so merciful, that he either cannot, or will not, punish sin, and be angry with the sinner. But this is not what the Bible teaches. To abuse God's mercy is to provoke his righteous indignation,-it is to draw upon ourselves a certain and an awful punishment. He who swore in his wrath, concerning thankless and rebellious Israel, that they should not enter into his rest, will one day punish with everlasting destruction from his presence all those who, under any pretence whatever, will not accept and obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage. When the Jews, as a nation, had rejected Gospel mercy, then the offers of that mercy were sent to the Gentiles. These offers have been conveyed even to ourselves, in this distant region of the earth. And the commission which has been given to the ministers of the Gospel, and to the means of instruction and grace, with reference to ourselves, is (to adopt the language of St. Luke) Compel them to come in! Compel them, not by persecution and force, but by persuasion and entreaty,urge them by a demonstration of the
truth, by declaring the love of God in Christ, by announcing the richness of the feast (the value of salvation), and the largeness of the offer (the freeness of God's grace),-press upon them all the motives of the Gospel, and remind them of those happy multitudes who have already entered in and received the blessing. By all wise and lawful means compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment; and we know what follows. "Let every one examine himself, and take care that he sit not down as a privileged guest, without the fitting preparation,-the wedding garment. Faith gives admission to the feast; and love and holiness, which are the life and work of faith, prepare the soul for the celestial nourishment. Happy the man who thus receives the bounties of his Lord; but wretched he who, charged and conscious stricken, sits speechless and condemned! Dreadful is the state of that man on whom the Lord Jesus shall pass sentence of eternal darkness, and hopeless exile from the blessings of religion, and the mercies of God!" May none of us be found among those who, having abused and resisted the grace and mercy of the Gospel, will be at last shut out for ever from the happiness of heaven!
Know that the Lord divides his saints